wrap up

Real joy.  Real pain.  Real hope.  Real sorrow.

I've felt all of these over the course of the past months.  It was a long and difficult fall which turned into a slightly better but still stressful winter.

I don't know if I've ever experienced the heights and depths of emotions as I have through this most recent time.  Joy so sweet I could taste it and wished it would last forever.  Sorrow so all-consuming that I couldn't believe it was happening to me.

I haven't blogged since September with any consistency.  I haven't felt like it, plain and simple.  When God's putting you through the spin cycle of the washing machine and you spend days hoping for that final rinse to come on so the whole thing can be over, it's hard to find the joy of anything to write about. 

I've been the encourager needing encouragement.  The one who usually offers hope needing hope to come my way.

And it did.

It came through unexpected friends.  As I was vulnerable with them, they were equally open and vulnerable with me and they shared their experiences that so closely matched mine, I knew it had to be of God.  While it didn't answer my situation, it gave me hope and possibility and a light at the end of the tunnel. To know others have walked the dark waters where you are gives you something to hold on to, even if it doesn't work out the same for you in the end.

Now I am at the end of December.  I am kissing 2010 goodbye and tossing it aside as fast as I can.  But if it hadn't been the 2010 it was, I wouldn't have grown.  If it hadn't been the 2010 it was,  I wouldn't have been called to trust.  If it hadn't been the 2010 it was, I wouldn't know the trials and their positive outcomes as I do.

God never wastes a hurt.  I pray that what I've journeyed through this past year will be helpful to someone else in 2011.  I pray that the highs and lows of the waves that tossed me about will turn into calmer seas.

I walk into 2011 a different person because of what I watched God do in 2010. 

And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Unexpected Love

Loves comes in unexpected forms.

Love comes in unexpected times.

Love comes in unexpected places.

Love comes in unexpected people.

God's love was born quietly when we least expected it 
in a manger where we least expected it 
at a time when we most needed it.

God knows what we need and right when we need it.
We can expect Him to do the unexpected.

bookstore concert

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to sing at Barnes and Noble.  While that might seem like an unlikely mix, it was by invitation that our theater group got asked to sing and provide some holiday music while all purchases made during that time gave a nice kickback to our theater.  Clearly a win-win for all.

But the best part of the whole afternoon was watching unsuspecting shoppers enter the store mid-concert, destined to buy books but immediately being sung to of the merriment of the holiday.  It was like an attack of festivity.  If there had been any bah humbugging going on, it all faded as soon as they set foot in the store.  Their faces said, "Am I on Candid Camera?" but their smiles assured us that they liked what they were hearing. 

It's sweetened my holiday season to look back today and remember their smirks and smiles and what-do-you-know kinds of looks.  I hope our singing sweetened theirs a little, too.

What's an unexpected shopping surprise you've had recently?

looking ahead

New day, new year.  Yesterday I turned 49; today I am fully launched into my 50th year of life.  What will this year between 49 and 50 look like?  Right now it's a bit like standing backstage and holding the curtain open to take a peek at action while waiting my turn to perform.  To me, turning 50 - and to many of us I think - is still a landmark event, even if 50 is the new 30, 40 or, heaven forbid, 65.

I made a few resolutions today.  I'd like to focus on myself (in a healthy, self-preserving way) this year so that when I get to my 50th birthday in 364 days, I can look back and say that I've invested in things and ways I want to be from that age on.

I want to....

   worry less, pray more.

   commit to less, relax more.

   enjoy and savor everyday moments more.

   soak up what's going on around me more.

   do less, enjoy free time more.

And one biggie for me .... instead of worrying about what I'm not actively accomplishing, look back and realize what I have done.

Who's with me?

Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman are visiting today on their Blog Tour!

by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman

(Interior. Aaron Reynolds, a writer of children’s books and graphic novels, is sitting at his writing desk. He’s typing, but suddenly stops when a shadow falls over his screen. It’s a kid, about ten or eleven.)

Aaron: (looking up) Hey.

Kid: Hey. Whatcha doin’?

Aaron: Um…writing. Who are you? What are you doing in my writing room?

Kid: I’m just some random kid.

Aaron: Ah. A random kid in my writing room. Okay.

Kid: Yeah. Act like I’m not here. (pause…Aaron starts to get back to work, but is interrupted) Aren’t you an author?

Aaron: (turning back around) Ignore you, huh? That’s gonna be tricky. Yeah. I write kid’s books and graphic novels.

Kid: Graphic novels? Like comic books?
Aaron: Kinda.

Kid: Whatcha writing now?

Aaron: An article about how a graphic novel gets made, but I wanted to write it LIKE a graphic novel, so that’s what I’m doing.

Kid: But…there’s no pictures. A graphic novel has lots of pictures.

Aaron: Not at first. Not mine anyway.

Kid: What?

Aaron: Seriously. I don’t draw.

Kid: I must have the wrong house then. I thought the dude that lives here makes graphic novels.

Aaron: I do. But I don’t draw them….I write them.

(Kid pauses while he thinks about this, then…)
Kid: That’s messed up.

Aaron: No, it’s not.

Kid: You can’t make a graphic novel without being able to draw.

Aaron: Well, I do. Like my new graphic novel…it’s called Joey Fly, Private Eye

Kid: Way to work that in there. Nice plug. Smooth.

Aaron: Yeah, thanks. Well, Joey Fly starts out like this. A script, just like this one.

Kid: Just the stuff people say?

Aaron: Mostly. I also write in what I see happening in each scene.

(Kid flops into a big cushy chair and puts his feet on Aaron’s writing desk, makes himself at home. He looks at Aaron like he’s lost his mind.)

Aaron: See? Like that. It’s called “stage directions”.

Kid: Oh cool! Like actions and stuff!

Aaron: Yeah, exactly.

Kid: Do it again.

(Kid gets up, kind of excited now. He’s putting it all together in his head, but then he notices a fresh sandwich on Aaron’s desk. Goes over, lifts the bread…he’s kinda hungry…but decides he doesn’t like tuna. Flops back down in the chair.)

Kid: Hey, that’s awesome how you made me do all that stuff! And I do hate tuna.

Aaron: It’s a script. In the graphic novel, I write the story. I come up with the characters. In Joey Fly, Private Eye, I create what happens, what characters are in it, all that stuff. Then I put it into a story…a script like this.

Kid: But it’s not a graphic novel. No pictures.

Aaron: Not yet. It will be soon. But first, I break it into panels.

Kid: Panels? 
Aaron: Like this. Chunks. How I imagine it will get broken into boxes in the finished graphic novel. This helps me figure out the flow and pacing of the story, helps me cut extra junk that’s not needed, and helps the illustrator figure out how he’s gonna lay out the pictures on the page.

Kid: Cool. I notice you use lots of words like “gonna” and “whatcha” and stuff. My Language Arts teacher would go nuts on you for that.

Aaron: Yeah, well… I try to write how people really talk. I think that’s important, especially for a graphic novel. It all depends on the character. Like, Joey Fly says some gonnas, but he also uses lots of detective-y phrases…

Joey: Life in the bug city. It ain’t easy. Crime sticks to this city like a one-winged fly on a fifty-cent swatter.

Aaron: Like that. That’s his opening line in the book.

Kid: Okay, that’s pretty funny.

Aaron: Well, I try.

Kid: But it’s still not a graphic novel.

Aaron: Man, for a random kid who shows up in my writing room, you’re seriously pushy.

Kid: Do you know many eleven-year-olds? We’re all like this.

Aaron: That’s right. Not being one, I forget sometimes.

Aaron: Well, now that it’s all broken into panels, I give it to my publisher. And once she’s happy with it, she sends it off to the illustrator and he starts drawing.

Kid: You tell him what to draw?

Aaron: No.
Kid: You tell him what the characters should look like?

Aaron: No.

Kid: What do you tell him?

Aaron: Nothing. Most of the time, we never even meet.

(pause…the kid’s mouth is hanging open.)

Kid: That is seriously messed up.

Aaron: That’s how it works. Unless you are the writer and the illustrator (which I’m not…I don’t draw, remember?), that’s how it works.

Kid: So what happens then?

Aaron: The illustrator looks at it and begins to sketch out what he thinks the characters look like.

Aaron: Like, for Joey Fly, Private Eye, the illustrator is a guy named Neil Numberman.

Neil: Hey kid. What’s up? Hey Aaron.

Aaron: Hey Neil. So, Neil might decide after reading this script that you look like this:
Kid: That’s me?

Neil: Yep.

Kid: You made me a bug!

Neil: Well, we’re talking about Joey Fly, Private Eye, so I’m thinking in bugs. It’s my job to use my imagination, to come up with my ideas of what Aaron’s characters and story look like.

Kid: Cool.

Neil: And as I start drawing and figuring out what it all looks like, Aaron’s story moves away from being a script and I start creating real characters…

Neil: …and pretty soon, I take Aaron’s written words and begin to put them into the mouths of the characters I’ve created.

Aaron Reynolds is a human, not a bug, but he often writes about bugs. He is the author of Chicks and Salsa, Superhero School, Buffalo Wings, and, of course, the Joey Fly, Private Eye graphic novels.

Neil Numberman is a termite currently residing in New York City. Joey Fly, Private Eye is his first graphic novel, but he is also the author/illustrator of the picture book Do NOT Build a Frankenstein.

And for every 10 comments that are left, one random winner will be drawn to receive a bug caricature done by Neil!.  Many thanks in advance, Neil!

So- let the comments roll, and enter the chance to win!

not trying to bug you, but...

In less than 48 hours we will have the wonderful and talented pair of Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman stopping by my blog to give you the scoop on the creation of their latest book, 

You'll be able to read about what they do and how they do it - and the process that takes them there.  
Fascinating stuff!

And remember- for every ten comments, there will be a winner of one of Neil's drawings.

See you on Friday!

Save the date!

Friday December 3rd is going to be loads of fun!  Not only because it's my birthday ;) but because I'll be hosting a guest blog for author Aaron Reynolds and illustrator Neil Numberman to help promote their new book, "Joey Fly, Private Eye in Big Hairy Drama"!!

  Aaron and Neil will be telling us all about their new book AND there will be a comment contest with  giveaways.  Neil has graciously offered to do a bug-caricature for ONE OUT OF EVERY TEN COMMENTS chosen randomly. It's gonna be a Fabulous Friday this week - remember to stop by, check it out, and leave a comment for your chance to win an illustrated giveaway by Neil!  See you soon!


I knew I was in trouble when the assistant at the lingerie store who was helping me with my fitting said, "Well, you know, when you're paying like $40 for one of these, what can you expect?"  Forty dollars?  And she was using that as a cheap example?  I was accustomed to paying about $12.99 at Kmart, and that was when I was feeling wealthy. 

Since I was on the other side of the dressing room door, she couldn't see my jaw dropping.  Sounding nonchalant, I asked, "And how much do these from your store cost?" 

I was able to purchase two that day, but those are going to have to last me most of the rest of my life.

But I learned a valuable lesson - yes, from undergarments- about quality vs. quantity.  I could either invest in something that was going to hold up (and hold me up) longer, or go the other route and end up possibly spending more money in replacement costs over and over and over.

Life is like that.  We often dole out quantity without much quality involved.  Quality takes more from us- it costs us something, thereby becoming more of an investment in what we're doing.  Quality demands a slower pace; it requires time, thought, and effort. Quantity can be thrown out over and over and over and not necessarily get us anywhere.

So I would challenge you and me today- what are we already doing that  perhaps could use a little quality?  Is there a place, a person, a need that should be getting more of you; an investment?

Hold that up in prayer.


I've got nothing.

No words of wisdom, no spiritual parallels to draw, no wit to share.

Some times are just like that.

The winds and storms that have blown through my life have left me feeling dry, empty and numb in more than a few places. 

When times like that come and linger, I find it difficult to find anything to write about - except the hard times.  And I figure no one really likes to hear about my doom and gloom.

Recently I've stumbled upon posts and writings about abiding.  I'm definitely in an abiding time right now.  I heard a friend talk about a difficult time in her life, and she stated, " It was easy to run to the Lord when things were so bad...because there was simply nowhere else to go but to Him."  Amen.  Things can get so messy and so complicated and so bigger than I am, that the answer is stunningly clear - run to God.  He's the only one Who could know how to work this all out.

So I run to Him and grab tight.  And on those days when I get to the end of my rope, I make a knot and hold on some more.


There's a deep sense of quieting in my soul.  There's an uncanny sense of peace.  His character of care and love comes through.  He asks me to end my frenzy of trying to tie all the loose ends together and instead, give it to Him.



This morning I had a piece of carrot cake for breakfast.

And while that's hardly the breakfast of champions, a friend of mine pointed out that it did have carrots in it.

Then I thought back to the yogurt covered raisins I had prior to the carrot cake.

And I got to feeling pretty darned good about myself.

So far today, I'm a vegetarian.

How's your Monday going?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

....especially over at (in)courage where they are having a Christmas Card drive of epic proportions!

If you'd like to brighten a child's Christmas in Ecuador this year by simply designing a Christmas card for them at a nominal price through Dayspring cards, click here to go to (in)courage's post about what to do and how to do it, and the impact it will make.  I plan to join in the fun and reach across the miles to a child who needs a smile this Christmas Day.  I hope you will too!

a quail and manna life

2010 has been a rough year for our family.

I say that because it started tough, and it's finishing tough.  Certainly there have been blessings and good times and victories along the way, but there's also been a lot of dark storm clouds that seem to blow to the side for just a bit before they come back and whip up another hurricane.

In an especially difficult time in one of my adult children's lives, they recently told me- "God gives me enough provision (aka hope, relief, sanity) to get me through one day.  No more, no less."  In thinking about that,  I realized my child is living a quail and manna life- having just what they need for the 24 hours ahead of them, and knowing that it won't be enough to get them through tomorrow.

God knows what you need for today - how much and how little.  God has enough for you for tomorrow, too.  Trust Him to provide the quail and the manna. 

goodnight moon

Besides being a classic picture book, it's also a wonderful sight.

Sheer exhaustion has me heading to bed early tonight.  Hope your day was good.  We get another one tomorrow. 

fall @ home

This season is a photographer's playground....

It always amazes me that before they die, the leaves go out in a blaze of glory like the last colorful explosion at a fireworks show on the 4th of July.  How privileged we are to have the chance to see such an array of hues before they drop to the ground.

Where will you get your color from today?


I love the dawning sky.

Love how those black clouds can go away with the start of a new day.

easy peasy

This Thursday's list of what I'm thankful for comes easily.

I'm thankful that:

My son is home from college and staying for a few days.

My daughter is arriving home from college this afternoon (and also staying for a few days).

They get to both be in their friends' wedding on Saturday.

The feel of family is all over my house.

God's got it all under control, even when I don't. 

In the comment section below, tell us - What are you thankful for today?

It's a McLinky Carnival!

What's a McLinky carnival?  Well, it has nothing to do with cheeseburgers and fries, let me assure you.  It has to do with having that special encourager in your life that has spurred you on time and time again.  Go on over to (in)courage and check it out!

just change your pants, george

Does anyone remember this scene from the movie Beethoven, back in 1992?

Alice: "Just change your pants, George."
George: "I'm gonna change my pants, Alice. But if I change my pants, I gotta change my jacket! If I change my jacket, I gotta change my shirt! If I change my shirt, I gotta change my tie! I hafta change my belt! I gotta change my shoes! I gotta change my socks!"
Alice: "Just change your pants, George."

We had a similar situation the other day on a smaller scale.  My husband was getting ready for work, which on that day called for the inclusion of a suit jacket.  He had on the tie and the shirt, but when he slipped the jacket on, I said,

"Oh, no.  That doesn't work at all."

Thinking I meant his simplest accessory, he went back into his closet, took off his tie, and grabbed another one. Still a no go from me.  One more time in for a different tie, and after he tied it and pulled on the jacket again, I told him the bottom line.  "It's not the tie.  It's the shirt." 

Of course, this was not really what he wanted to hear because it was more of an overhaul if he had to start back at the shirt part of the process.  I couldn't blame him- I'd hate to have to start over again too when I'm ready to walk out the door.

In that moment I thought about it and realized how often in my daily life I am just switching ties when the real problem is my shirt.  I invest in and trade a lot of surface stuff, hoping for a match, instead of getting to the main issue and fixing that. Why? 

Because it's messier and dirtier and more time-consuming (and heart revealing) to deal with what really matters and needs to be changed.  It's easier to keep switching around the small-ticket items hoping to bandaid the problem long enough to get me through another day.

Usually somewhere between tie #54 and #55, God looks me in the eye and says, "Stop switching accessories.  You need to deal with the heart of this.  Now. Sit down and let's get this straightened out."  And what I'm about to do takes time, revelation, some unveiling and occasionally (ok, usually) confession and repentance.

But the heart transformation that takes place when God is done with me and my issue is worth every minute. 

He knows what tie goes with what shirt that looks great with the jacket. And when he coordinates my heart and lines it up according to His plan, I've got a match.

Drum roll, please

Today's the day!  I have the fantastic opportunity to be a guest blogger over at the (in)courage site.  It's a wonderful place- go on over and check it out!

You can check out my guest post directly by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you over at (in)courage!

a sneak peak at tomorrow

Fun news...I get to be the guest blogger tomorrow, Thursday, October 7th, on the awesome women's ministry site of (in)courage !  I'll put a link here on my blog tomorrow that will go straight to my guest post there.  I'm thrilled and excited to be able to share on their site- it's an online beach house for us gals that is warm and welcoming. 

I'd love it if you'd dropped by (in)courage tomorrow to read my post and others.  I have a feeling once you do, you'll be hooked and stop by every day.  I'm just sayin'....

perfect baking weather

Cold, gray rainy days.  Fantastic days for baking delectable treats.  Yummy items where you'd rather eat the dough than the baked product.  But with our household getting smaller and with those of us left in the house trying to keep our waistlines that way too, I am not baking much these days.  But I thought this was the perfect place to include my story of my fearless attempt to whip some bananas into shape one summer afternoon.  Go here to read about the fun I had!

Bon appetit!

fall things

I got a nice little Canon Powershot on Saturday - while I love my larger digital SLR, it's not practical to take with me every day and everywhere; so I felt the definite need (not a want, a need, mind you) to get myself something powerful yet purse-size. 

The fruit of some of my labor (which isn't laborious at all- it's a blast) -